Saturday, 11 April 2009

Libs Dems break rules to build road into Bute Park

Update to Bute Parks Alliance: Work at the College of Music entrance/extension 

No documents to meet the pre-conditions have been submitted - and many of these pre-conditionssay "no development" until each individually has been met.   

Substantial amounts of soil (including tarry contaminants) have been brought onto the site, to build up levels 
for the work with excavators pulling up stumps etc.  Yet one pre-condition says no 
"No excavations/groundworks shall take place until a written scheme of archaeological investigation has 
been submitted to and approved by the Local Planning Authority." 
Other pre-conditions cover Japanese Knotweed (detailed scheme to be submitted and approved in writing) and 
"No part of the development hereby permitted shall be commenced until a scheme detailing the measures necessary for the purposes of identifying chemical and other contaminants on the site and to ensure that the land is suitable for the proposed development has been submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority."

It's pretty obvious this latter condition should have been fulfilled first.   They've used some chemical on the 
Knotweed without approval.  But after the enforcement officer was called in, he just wrote (9 April) 
 I do not believe there was any deliberate intention to circumvent the conditions and I am happy with the progress made to date. 

It appears they stopped further work on 9th April because another pre-condition says 
Prior to the commencement of development, the eastern bank of the dock feeder shall be enclosed to mitigate against my potential for the pollution of that watercourse in accordance with a scheme of detail which shall first have been submitted to and approved by the Local Planning Authority.

That waits on the case officer Richard Cole's return after Easter to approve the fence plans. 

The overall issue is whether the "Development" has started - unlawfully, as the pre-conditions have not been met. 
The Council's officers responsible for chasing breaches of planning permits are known as "enforcement officer". 
They replied on 9th April "we remain of the opinion that development to implement the planning permission has not commenced ." 

However, their legal officer gave the criterion as commencing "operations" and used Lord Denning’s judgement that 
        “operations” cover “activities which result in some physical alteration to the land, which has some degree of permanence”. 

Only to planning officers does cutting down mature trees not satisfy this definition.  All the soil brought in has completely changed the 
surface ecosystem as well as land levels, for those who would argue that mature trees are not part of the land (or landscape). 

Note that if the College did not go ahead with the "development" there is no condition in the Early Access Licence requiring them to remove the polluted 'soil' and replant the area.  They would have been allowed to despoil this part of the Park for nothing. 

So watch this space!  Will the enforcement officers continue to deny what's obvious to Denning's common man, 
that there has been "some physical alteration to the land, which has some degree of permanence"? 
And if they admit it's breaching planning controls, what action will they take? 

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